Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson
I can accept that as an option but it is a little tangential to my point. To be specific, why are some speakers made so that their on-axis frequency response is not acceptable for on-axis listening so that one is forced to listen off-axis?
I don't know the answer either. But it seems to me maybe soulburner's response does suggest an answer.
In trying to think this through: as I mentioned a predictable result of toeing out pretty much any speaker I've tried is the sense of the sonic images expanding in size, with a bit more sonic "weight" and richness, and a greater 3 dimensionality to the imaging and soundstaging, as well as (to my ears) taking on a more nuanced timbral quality (e.g. where toed in everything sounds "lit up" with a sort of high frequency sheen on everything, slight toeing out produces a greater variety of tonal 'colour' where, say, a low string or oboe sounds deeper, darker, where drum cymbals still pop out as brilliant in the mix. It just sounds more complex). (I have 5 pairs of speakers that I'm often switching between in my room - Thiel 2.7, old Thiel 02 traditional-design monitors, Spendor S3/5, Waveform Mach MC, MBL Omnis - and except for the omnis this effect holds true for all of them. I just went through dialing in the Thiel 02s last night, hearing exactly the issues I described as I toed in and toed out the speakers, in a well-damped, well treated room btw).
Putting aside the taste for the tonal balance, in terms of the apparent increase in the size and dimensionality of the sound, I'm wondering what causes this. Does it have something to do with how speakers tend to radiate to the listener off axis (whatever their frequency response on axis)? Or is this expanding effect always due to more room reflections by toeing the speaker out?
Hmmm..now that I think of it, it doesn't seem to be strictly the addition of room reflections, as I can gain a similar effect by moving closer to the speakers, hence both reducing the toe in in terms of angle to listener, and yet reducing
room reflections by moving to more direct sound.
But IF such observations as I've made about the nature of slightly off-axis sound are the case, then maybe there's something about the way speakers radiate sound that gives a bit of a "bigger more 3d sound" off axis, and hence designing the frequency response to sound right slightly off axis makes sense.
I'm a know-nothing and just winging it here. I'm sure Floyd Toole can settle this issue.